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Liberal Democrat Wins Inverness West By-Election

23rd April 2009

The by-election for a councillor to serve the Inverness West Ward (No 14) on The Highland Council has been won by Mr Alasdair Christie, Liberal Democrat Focus Team.

Mr Christie was one of six candidates, who contested the vacancy, created by the death of Jimmy MacDonald (Independent). The other two councillors serving Inverness West are Councillor Alex Graham, Liberal Democrat, and Councillor Pauline Munro, SNP.

Voting was by the single transferable vote and Mr Christie emerged as the winner at the first stage of the count, gaining 1,503 (59.6%) of the 2,522 valid first preference votes cast. 18 votes were rejected

The turn out was 38.35%.

The representation of the 80-member Council now is Independent, 29; Liberal Democrat, 22; SNP, 17; Labour, 7; Independent Members' Group, 5.

The other candidates were:
* Donald Gunn MacDonald, Scottish Conservative & Unionist - 111 votes
* George MacDonald, Solidarity - Scotland's Socialist Movement - 27 votes
* Andrew James MacKintosh, Scottish Labour Party Candidate - 210 votes;
* Dr Sheila McLaughlan, Scottish Christian Party Proclaiming Christ's Lordship - 115 votes
* Brian hEadhra, Scottish National Party (SNP) - 556 votes.

The first preference votes cast were as follows:
Alasdair Christie (Lib Dem) 1503 - 60%
Brian o'hEadhra (SNP) 556 - 22%
Andrew Mackintosh (Lab) 210 - 8%
Sheila MacLaughlin (Christian Party) 115 - 5%
Donald Gunn Macdonald (Con) 111 - 4%
George Macdonald (Solidarity) 27 - 1%

Turnout 2540 (38.35%)

The quota in the first round (50% of the vote plus 1) was 1262, and since Alasdair Chriistie had exceeded the quota, he was elected without any transfers taking place.

In May 2007 the SNP were ahead by 125 votes, when the first preferences
were;
Pauline Munro (SNP) - 965
Alex Graham (Lib Dem) - 840
Jimmy MacDonald (Ind) - 778
Caroline Parr ( labour ) - 536
Mary Fraser (Con) - 230

Turnout 3349 (51.74%)

Inverness West ward covers 5.5 square miles (14 sq km) and lies on the
western side of the City of Inverness. It comprises the residential
areas of Scorguie, Kinmylies, Muirtown, Clachnaharry village, the
Bught/Springfield/Ballifeary area, and rural areas in Dunain and on the
Leachkin.

* It is mainly a suburban residential ward, with a large proportion of owner-occupied houses (74%).

* Craig Dunain and Craig Phadrig, The Leachkin, New Craigs Hospital, Kilvean Cemetery and Crematorium, Scottish Natural Heritage HQ at Great Glen House, the Caledonian Canal, Torvean Golf Course, Inverness Leisure Centre, Whin Park, the future Highland Archive, the Bught Park, Tomnahurich Cemetery and the scenic Ness Islands all
contribute to the ward's place of importance within Inverness.

* Major employers located within the ward are New Craigs Hospital, Scottish Natural Heritage, Inverness Leisure Centre and Caley Cruisers.

* Approximately 2,500 people within the ward are in employment, 67% of them in public administration, education & health. Shops and hotels are the other main employment sources.

* The west of the city witnessed a major expansion in the 1970s and 1980s when the housing areas of Scorguie and Kinmylies were built. After a long pause major house building was started again by Robertson Homes at Westercraigs on the former Craig Dunain Hospital site, though currently there is little activity there.

* The swing bridges over the Caledonian Canal and the need for a permanent road link have made transport the key issue in this part of Inverness.

* The A82 Fort William and A862 Beauly roads both go through Inverness West, resulting in all road access from Inverness to the west passing through the ward. It is the western gateway of Inverness.

* There is one secondary school (Charleston Academy) and two primary schools (Kinmylies and Muirtown) within the ward. A considerable number of pupils, mainly from the Bught/Springfield part of the ward, also attend Inverness High School, and Dalneigh and Central Primary Schools.

* The total population is 8,122, with 3,575 households.

* The electorate at October 2008 was 6,688.

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